By the mid-1960s, the market for frozen prepared foods was booming. In addition to an array of new products, newly introduced “air-curtain” freezer cabinets gave customers the products they wanted displayed not just in reach-down bins, but on open, easy-to-see and easily accessible shelves.
“In September 1965 . . . the industry had enjoyed . . . the largest single increase in both dollars and poundage in frozen food history. Products were now valued at $5.2 billion and production estimated at close to 10 billion pounds. Prepared FF made the biggest gain, the dollar value of which was $1,190 million. In that category, frozen dinners were first with an estimated $280 million in sales, followed by baked good, nationality foods, fruits pies, meat pies and entrees.”
—Quick Frozen Foods, a trade journal, 1965
Among the categories leading the boom were what the frozen food industry classified as “nationality” foods: Italian ($100 million in 1967), Chinese ($30 million) and Mexican and Tex-Mex ($25 million).